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Extreme heat to exacerbate southwestern US wildfire threat into next week

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Another round of sizzling heat threatens to aggravate the ongoing wildfire situation across the southwestern United States through early week.

Intense heat relaxed for a time across parts of the Southwest late this past week, but a strengthening area of high pressure will bring a resurgence of heat to the region early next week.

"Triple-digit heat will return to parts of [Southern California] by Monday, and excessive heat will become likely in the Central Valley of California with some areas getting to, or just past 110 degrees Fahrenheit," according to AccuWeather Western U.S. Weather Expert Ken Clark.

High temperatures are forecast to reach the low 110s F in places such as Las Vegas and Phoenix, which is still above average by 5-10 degrees.

Downtown Los Angeles may hit 90 on multiple days early in the week.

Relief from the heat can be sought at California beaches, where the Pacific Ocean influence will keep highs in the 70s and 80s.

While temperatures are not expected to reach the same levels as the June 19-21 heat wave, area residents should still take precautions and remain vigilant of the high wildfire danger.

Anyone spending time outdoors will want to remain aware for signs of dehydration and heat-related illnesses. At least five hikers died in Arizona during record heat this past week.

Cigarettes should be properly discarded and cars should not be parked over dry brush to avoid sparking a wildfire.

The persistent hot and dry conditions have left the region a tinderbox, with numerous wildfires currently burning hundreds of thousands of acres.

The resurgence of warmth early in the week will only act to hinder containment of any ongoing major wildfires in the Southwest, including the Erskine Fire in California and Cedar Fire in Arizona.

The deadly Erskine Fire has burned over 30,000 acres in Kern County, California, since it began on Thursday.

On Friday, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Kern County as the fire exploded in size and began to threaten nearby homes, according to KNBC. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The threat for lightning-induced wildfires will ramp up in the new week.

"There will be a gradual increase in moisture around the high next week, which could spark some thunderstorms in Arizona and the mountains and deserts of Southern California," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.

Lightning strikes could easily spark new wildfires in the area and gusty winds from a nearby storm can cause wildfire movement to become erratic, posing a hazard to fire personnel and homes.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, nearly 2 million acres have been burned by wildfires from Jan. 1 to June 24, 2016. This is over 1 million more acres burned compared to the same time period last year.